Is it all about money and squeezing every last 0.01p or $0.01 or €0.01… from the creation or is it about the vocation that is life as an artist? There has to be a balance. The creative artist should be able to live and receive appropriate reward for the work produced. The businesses that offer services to the artists need their fees to be paid but in many cases the division of revenue seems to be disproportionately divided in favour of the services rather than the originator.
There are arguments about the amount of investment that the service gives to the artist and that this needs to be recovered. The 360o contract is seen by some service businesses as a way to use all revenues generated by the artist to retrieve the money loaned as efficiently as possible. Artists have to work very hard to create their own fan base before any service business will even look at them, this is to minimise the risks in the investment for the service.
Artists can own and control many of the functions that these service businesses offer and recent scrutiny has concentrated on streaming services and the small returns to the artists in recent years. Armen Chakmakian shared some statements at Digital Music News recently (as did Zoe Keating a few weeks ago that I mentioned in the blog; How do you use music?). Looking at the figures there appear to be discrepancies in the royalties that different artists receive for their music. This could be due to the negotiating stance that has been taken regarding size of catalogue, number of plays and forecasts of revenue generation. Without clearly stated terms and conditions in place there are bound to be uncertainties as to how these products assist the artist.
The download platforms are more open with their policies, iTunes taking 30%, Bandcamp 10% and there are a number of intermediaries that will ‘place’ the recordings on various sites for a fee or subscription.
The European Union has introduced an Artists Resale Right and the main details are: Artist’s Resale Right (ARR) entitles artists and their beneficiaries to a royalty from the commercial resale of an original work of art when the sale price reaches or exceeds the sterling equivalent of €1,000. The right lasts for the copyright period of the life of the creator and 70 years after the creator’s death (similar to the periods in music and written works). Full details can be found at http://artistscollectingsociety.org/artists-resale-right-arr/
Authors are invariably contracted to publishers and in the blog post by Mack Collier So How Much Money Will You Make From Writing A Book? many of the working practices are explained. The figures ($) may be a little out of date now but the concepts are still part of the business process. http://www.mackcollier.com/so-how-much-money-will-you-make-from-writing-a-book/
I hope this article does not put people off a life as an artist, opportunities are more accessible as is the information regarding what to expect in the business and in many ways the artist is more in control of their creative direction.
© Peter R. Birkby 2014